Nearly 1,000 comments submitted on hours of service

September 6, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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Only two weeks into the public comment period on FMCSA’s proposed changes to its hours-of-service regulations, and the agency has already received nearly 1,000 comments.

On Aug. 22, FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register that included five main changes to the hours of service:

  • The limits for short-haul operations would increase from 12 to 14 hours and from 100 air miles to 150.
  • The adverse driving provision would allow a driver up to a 16-hour window within which to complete up to 13 hours of driving if the driver encounters adverse conditions.
  • The 30-minute break requirement would be modified, prohibiting driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least one 30-minute change in duty status. This would allow 30 minutes of on-duty but not driving time, off-duty time, or sleeper-berth time to qualify as a break.”
  • In addition to splits of 10/0 and 8/2, drivers would be allowed a split-sleeper option of 7/3.
  • Drivers would have the option of stopping the clock a minimum of 30 minutes and up to three hours consecutively once per duty period.

FMCSA said the goal of the changes is to provide truck drivers more flexibility within the regulations.

“We hope that by providing this type of flexibility, it will put a little bit more power into the hands of the drivers to address the realities they are facing on the road,” FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said.

As of Friday, Sept. 6, there were 969 comments submitted to the Regulations.gov website.

“I am wholeheartedly in favor of the changes in the hours of service being proposed,” wrote Norman Lassen Jr., an OOIDA life member. “I am a good, safe driver and will continue to be one, but I would like these rules to be adopted to help me and the whole industry be safer and improve our public image.”

Others don’t think the changes go far enough and would like to see the 30-minute break requirement removed entirely.

“Everything I have heard in the new proposed hours of service I feel will help my operation,” Travis Howard wrote. “That being said, I am still in favor of completely eliminating the 30-minute break and 14-hour rule altogether. Keep it simple, 14 on driving or working. Ten off.”

Comments can be made at the Regulations.gov website by using docket number FMCSA-2018-0248 until Oct. 7.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.